From rat meat masquerading as lamb to tainted milk to exploding watermelons, Chinese consumers have become inured to stomach-churning food scandals. But on Tuesday, countless people were forced to ponder the benefits of vegetarianism after news reports emerged that unscrupulous meat traders had been peddling tons of beef, pork and chicken wings that in some cases had been frozen for 40 years.
The Chinese news media announced that the authorities had seized nearly half a billion dollars’ worth of smuggled frozen meat this month across China, some of it dating to the 1970s. The caches of beef, pork and chicken wings, worth up to CNY3 billion, or USD483 million, were discovered in a nationwide crackdown that spanned 14 provinces and regions, the state news agency Xinhua reported.
Typically, the meat was shipped from abroad to Hong Kong and then brought to Vietnam, where traders would smuggle the product across the Chinese border without declaring it to customs officials or going through required inspection and quarantine procedures. From there, criminals would often transport the meat in unrefrigerated trucks to save costs and refreeze it several times before it reached customers.